How to Tell a Right Hand From Left Hand Door Swing

There's nothing more frustrating than purchasing a door, only to find that the hinges are on the wrong side. It's a simple mistake that can happen to anyone. Door swing direction, also known as door handing, can be disorienting because terminology differs depending on region or supplier. Apply a single method accepted by the majority of builders, carpenters and dealers, and you can't go wrong.

Get Pushy

The confusion over door swing direction usually originates from what side of the door you're on. The majority of doors, including bedroom, bath and double doors, are almost always in-swing, meaning that they open into the room -- you push them to open them. The push side, also referred to as the outside or exterior side, is the side of the door typically used to determine if the door is left- or right-swing.

Swing Direction

The standard procedure is to stand with your back to the exterior, or push, side of the door. If the doorknob is on your right, it's a right-hand swing. If the doorknob is on your left, it's a left-hand swing.

Swing Out

Another type of door, the out-swing door opens away from the interior of the room. In some states, such as Florida, out-swing doors are sometimes used as exterior entryway doors because they resist high winds better than in-swing doors.

Out-Swing Push

Here's where it might get confusing. The door swing direction for an out-swing door is still established from the push side of the door -- except that you're on the inside of the room -- not on the exterior side like an in-swing door: Stand with your back to the door. If your right hand is on the doorknob side, it's a right-hand swing. If your left hand is on the doorknob side, it's a left-hand swing.

All Is Not Lost

In the event that you've hung the door, and due to poor planning, or a recent remodel, the door swings the wrong way, the swing direction can be changed. It's possible to remove the door and casing, cut the jamb loose with a reciprocating saw, turn it around, and reinstall it. Another technique is to remove only the door, route new hinge mortises on the other side of the jamb, move the striker plate, patch the old mortises and rehang the door. If you're handy with tools, you can do it yourself, or a carpenter can do it for a reasonable fee.